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Faa Slaps Cologne Maker With Fine For Giving Planes Heavenly Scent

Cologne, shoppers know, can get expensive. Bath and Body Works, which makes the stuff, probably agrees.

The company just got a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration demanding that it pay a $750,000 fine because it had spilled “Canyon,” “Woodland,” “Gingham Cologne” and “Cool Spring,” among other hazardous substances, on FedEx planes on 23 occasions in a 13-month period.

The colognes are classified as hazardous material because they are mostly alcohol, which turns easily into a flammable vapor.

Bath and Body Works, of Columbus, Ohio, has an exemption that allows it to ship the materials in small quantities - if they are properly packaged and labeled.

FedEx cargo workers discovered the problem in the most obvious way. The packages were “giving off a strong odor,” according to a civil penalty notice.

Bath and Body Works’ parent company, The Limited Inc., of Columbus, said in a statement that it had not knowingly violated the rules and would contest the fine. The aviation agency has been aggressively pursuing shippers of hazardous material since a Valujet DC-9, carrying oxygen generators, burned in flight and crashed in the Everglades in May 1996, killing 110 people.

Many illegal shipments go undetected, experts say, but Bath and Body Works apparently repeatedly shipped small bottles of its materials packed loosely into bigger boxes, and when they smashed together and broke, there was no liner to catch the liquids.

FedEx spokesman Gregory M. Rossiter said there was no lasting damage or odor. FedEx, which reported the incidents to the aviation agency, is worried about more than just smell, though. One of its DC-10s was destroyed on Sept. 5, 1996, by a fire that broke out in flight between Memphis and Boston. The $30 million plane made an emergency landing at Stewart Airport, in Newburgh, N.Y., and the five crew members aboard came down emergency ropes and a slide. The accident is still under investigation.